By Connie Leinbach
The FBI was on Ocracoke this morning to investigate a threat to Ocracoke School that was posted Tuesday night.
Captain Joe Smith of the Hyde County Sheriff’s Department on Ocracoke said that “Don’t go to school tomorrow” was posted on a texting app called Yik Yak, which is intended for sharing primarily with those in proximity to the user and allows users to post anonymously.
Deputy Jay Neal said he was awakened at 3 a.m. today when Yik Yak flagged the post and told them it had been posted by a teenaged boy on Ocracoke.
Then he and Smith went to the boy’s house.
“We talked to him and searched the house,” Smith said. “We also searched the school.”
No weapons or anything was found in either location, Smith said.
An FBI agent from the Manteo office arrived on the island around 9:30 this morning to interview the youth and find out his intentions.
“The FBI had everything on this kid,” Neal said.
Neal said later in the morning that the youth told the FBI agent that he thought posting that phrase would be funny.
“But it isn’t,” Neal said.
No charges were filed, the FBI agent left and Neal said the youth’s mother took his phone away.
“When (the youth) gets it back it will be a flip phone (without social media apps),” he said.
Smith said this was the second or third time they have responded to possibly threatening Yik Yak posts.
One of those prior posts was lyrics to a song that Nikolas Cruz, who is set to be sentenced today to life in prison for killing 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High School in Parkland, Fla., just before he began his deadly assault.
According to the Yik Yak website, the app allows people to create and view discussion threads within a 5-mile radius. The website says it’s anonymous, but other published reports, Neal and Smith, say it’s not.
The app had flagged the post and contacted law enforcement.
According to vice.com, Yik Yak, launched in 2013, shut down in 2017 after it was accused of being a platform for bullying and harassment.
After addressing some flaws, it relaunched in 2021.